Archive for the ‘birds’ Tag

03-30-2018 My Wildlife Welfare System   Leave a comment

Being a lifelong animal lover has it’s ups and downs and living here in Maine makes things even more interesting.  With the harsh winters and constant snow cover the wildlife here has become quite  deligent in their hunt for food. I’ve been a loyal bird feeder for most of my life because I really enjoy having the birds around.  My better-half is also a bird lover and we currently have six feeders we keep filled.  I estimate the birds are eating close to 125 lbs. of feed a year  not counting the many packages of suet we purchase to keep the woodpeckers healthy and happy. Add to that two or three quarts of sugar syrup for the hummingbirds and you begin to truly understand.

It became apparent some months ago that the birds living in this area have a rather accomplished communication system to spread the news concerning food sources and the location of predators. This came to my attention when a herd of wild turkeys showed up out of nowhere and began feeding from the food accidently dropped from our hanging feeders.  Needless to say my better-half was quick to buy more corn and began strewing it everywhere. That’s all they needed to make our home the number one spot on their regular feeding rotation. With the heavy snow cover this winter they needed to do something inventive to help them survive the winter.  Thus began the feeding of a another new group of dependents that I couldn’t claim on my taxes. As always I just went along thinking that would be the last of the additions to our extended family of two hundred or so really hungry birds.  I was sadly mistaken once again.

Last year I erected a squirrel feeder on a nearby tree hoping it might convince the little buggers to stay away from the bird feeders. Once again, no good deed goes unpunished. We found out very quickly that turkeys and the occasional deer are also fond of corn.  So began the battle for the corn that lasted most of the summer and into the winter. My better-half still insists on bringing home an endless supply of corn to keep the battle going.  I left one of the bags sitting in the basement and hoped she would forget about it.  She forgot for a time but the field mice did not.  They like corn too and we soon found ourselves overrun with mice. Since the untimely demise of my lifelong best friend, my cat Stormy it’s been difficult to keep them under control.  He died a year ago and the mice discovered his absence rather quickly.  A new war was a brew’n.

A quick visit to Lowes supplied me with an armload of mouse traps and a determination to keep the mice out of our home.  I did discover that putting cheese in a mousetrap is a waste of time.  At first the mice were able to pull the cheese from the trap without harming themselves.  After some research I discovered that JIFF creamy peanut butter really gets the job done.  I’ve peeled 13 little corpses off those traps so far and I hope there will be many more to come. I toss their little corpses out onto the snow bank in the backyard where the crows and coyotes fight over the free meal.  At least with the mice I only have to feed them once.

I wish that was the end of this sad story but no such luck.  Next on my list is a large group of industrious little chipmunks who have quite a nice residence under our home.  My father always told me if you see one chipmunk you probable have at least ten. If that’s true then we may have upwards of a hundred roaming around. Oh yeah, they also love corn and bird seed just like damn near everyone else. It’s a little more difficult for them because they’re so small and the birds are constantly chasing them away.

I’ll begin working in our garden within the next few weeks and “Job 1” is to be certain that the fences are intact.  All these little varmints, birds, deer, and skunks are just waiting for me to make a mistake and then my garden will be trashed.  Don’t even get me started about that big fat skunk that patrols our property looking for trouble.  If he was any bigger I could just ride him around  like a horse.

So begins another summer here in Maine.  It should be interesting.

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02-25-2015 Journal–Sunny & OMFG Cold!   Leave a comment

I can’t believe it but I’ve succeeded in sleeping in until 9am this morning.  I suppose  the late night pickup at the Portland Jetport is primarily responsible. My better-half’s flight was scheduled to arrive at 10pm but air travel being what it is she arrived on a different airline and at 1140pm.  Airline travel sucks on a good day but then you add in Maine and winter weather it becomes ridiculous. I won’t get into a major rant on airline companies today because anyone who flies anywhere that isn’t first class or non-stop is well aware how they make you suffer. Maybe they’re doing it intentionally to force as many people as possible to pay the extra money to avoid flying coach with multiple connectors.

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Maybe I should thank my better-half for bringing back a little sunshine from her journey.  For the first time in a long while I was awakened by bright sunshine blasting through the layer of ice hanging from the house and into my bedroom.  It’s a brilliant sunny day and the temperature has yet to reach 20 degrees.  These photographs were taken from inside the house because it’s almost impossible to walk anywhere in this deep snow.

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As you can see it’s impossible to enjoy the scenery without ice and snow being the main focus.  The cold weather is expected to last well into March which means this ice will be hanging around (no pun intended) for at least another month.

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The birds are finally making an appearance in fairly large numbers.  They’re roosting in nearby trees and soaking up as much of the sunshine as they possibly can.  It’s tough being a bird in any northern state at this time of the year.

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The squirrels aren’t going to be too happy either when they’re finally able to stick their heads out of their nests.  Mother Nature has badly damaged their feeder which will be my first Spring project.

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10-26-2014 Journal Entry-Leaves & Chickens!   Leave a comment

I’m still waiting . . . . for what you might ask . . . . for dryness. This last week here in Maine was like the monsoon season in India except for the bone chilling icy cold nights.  I mentioned in a recent post about all the effing leaves I’ve been dealing with and I’m here to tell you it hasn’t gotten any better.  Not only do we have more leaves than before but they’re now soaking wet. There’s nothing harder than trying to rake giant piles of wet leaves because they refuse to cooperate.  I’m only bringing it up again because it’s my one and only chore for today and I just don’t want to do it.

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‘Dumb Birds’

As I write this post I’m tightly wrapped in my red dragon blanket, still in bed, sipping my coffee, and looking out the window at another gray and damp day. Most of the trees have dropped their leaves except for a few of the more stubborn oaks.  They always seem to hang on a little longer than the others before giving it up for the Winter.  As usual I can just make out a few squirrels romping through the nearby tree branches enjoying the last days of Fall. I won’t see much of them again until we have a few warmer than normal days later in the Winter.  They’ll sneak out, look around, smell the air, and try to find an acorn or two. Then it’ll be back to their nests to await Spring’s arrival.  I guess those squirrels have the right idea.  I’m trying to do much the same thing if you think about it.  If it’s good enough for a bunch of furry little squirrels then it should work for me as well, right?

Most of the birds have headed south and at times I envy them.  The woodpeckers, the blue jays, and chickadees are back in large numbers and will be around for the entire winter.  We supply them with plenty of food and suet to help them through the worst of it.  It always amazes me that any of them ever survive the Winter.  This morning I found our backyard filled with black birds and I’m not sure what they were looking for but they working hard at it.

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‘Stupid Birds’

For the first time in a week I can actually see blue skies and the sun. I can remember as a kid how much my friends and I loved climbing onto and under the piles of leaves.  My Dad found it amusing for as long as it took him to realize we were making more work for him.  Maybe today I’ll revert to an earlier version of myself, pile up some leaves, and dive right in.  The smell of those wet leaves should take me right back to age seven for a few minutes. Then reality will set back in and I’ll realize I’m sitting in a pile of wet leaves  in the middle of my yard and giving the neighbors a reason to question my sanity.

As I stepped out my back door I received another big surprise.  From out of nowhere two chickens arrived at my door and are refusing to leave.  Now I’ll be forced to spend time today polling my neighbors to see who they belong to.  I’ll never again feel guilty about eating chickens . . . they’re too stupid to live.

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“Dumb and Stupid Birds’

Anyone out there interested in a few chicken wings?

06-27-2014 Journal Entry–Retirement!   Leave a comment

I still find my life difficult after six years of being retired. First of all I never expected to ever be retired and honestly thought I would have died long before this. For a change it’s nice to be wrong about certain things.

Adjusting my day-to-day existence from being an over achieving workaholic to a gardening, bird watching, and laid back retiree has been interesting and at times distressing.  I now understand that my high blood pressure issues were probably responsible for my former fast paced life style and the workaholic obsession.

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“The garden is producing already. I just thought I’d brag a little.”

But with my slowed down and medicated lifestyle I’m now a much more calm and controlled person.  Yesterday I spent a good part of my day taking photographs. I was able to spend more than an hour taking pictures without ever leaving my yard.  I’ve never had the luxury of free time like this and it still makes me feel guilty as if I’m being lazy and unproductive.  I’ll show you a few of my photo’s and you can judge for yourself if it was worth my time.  After looking at them I found myself very happy with the results and felt the time had been well spent.  See what you think.

I’ve placed numerous bird houses on the property and this year we have a number of winged residents living with us.  I’ve come to find out that birds can be a vicious bunch.  They’re very territorial especially when they’re nesting and protecting newborns. This first photo is of a mother spending twelve hours a day coming and going to feed her recently hatched babies. 

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This second photo is that same mother protecting those young from an intruder.  Two years ago this same bird had two nestlings killed by a bird of the same species.  I found their little corpses in the nest after the birds left on their southern migration.  I finally had to replace the box because they refused to come near the old one even though I’d cleaned out the old nest and dead babies. The first year after replacing that box they returned and took possession of the new one once again.  They seem to be much more protective these days than in the past and rightly so.

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Hopefully within a few weeks we’ll have a few little ones making a racket as they mature and prepare to leave the nest.  That’s assuming no further catastrophes occur such as other birds or the neighbor’s cat.  I might be forced to put a few Be-Be’s in the ass of that damn cat to help them a little if necessary.

I then moved through the garden to an area with freshly blooming day lilies.  They are some of my favorite flowers for photographing.  The colors are just so vibrant and beautiful I can’t resist them.

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Lets get just a little closer to see more of Mother Nature’s finest work.

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It’s these things that help keep me sane.  I could easily roam for hours taking pictures of anything and everything and never be disappointed.

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After a day of doing this I’m not quite so discontented with retirement.  Doing things I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do is even cooler than I imagined. I  do miss working more than I thought I would but it’s all a matter of adjusting to change. I’m almost there.

01-19-2014 Journal Entry–More Snow!   Leave a comment

Well the weekend has passed without much of interest to talk about.  I have to tell you though that taking Sundays off from my life is something I recommend highly for anyone to try.  No exercising, no blogging and no dieting. As always I remind you that Sunday as a day of rest for me is not a religious leftover from my childhood.  It just happens to fit into my strangely scheduled current  lifestyle.

We had another eight inches of snow through the night which meant I was to spend at least a half hour with my favorite motorized friend, the snowblower.  The snow was wet and heavy and a real pain in the ass to deal with.  I did it quickly so my better-half could access the outside world and then I returned to my day-off.  I snapped a few pictures around the house of this storm because the snow was sticking to everything and made for some interesting photos.

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The weather has warmed a little which brings out the visiting birds in large numbers.  We feed them regularly but in frigid weather they become scarce. Since we live in a forested area we have three or four generations of woodpeckers that stay with us all winter.  We place suet out for them because they’re the most successful in pecking it apart when it’s frozen.

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They’ve been flying in and out in shifts so often they’re averaging one suet container a week.  It apparently keeps them healthy and makes living through the winter months a little easier.

I then decided to leave the warm bosom of my house to explore the neighboring area for a few photo’s of the snow scenes.  Here are three that should give you a better idea about what Maine is like in winter.

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It’s now Monday morning and I’m back on the treadmill for a mile or two of good heath and exhaustion.  The better-half’s loving the new slimmer me but I think it’s just her way of motivating me a little more.  Either way  it’s a win/win.

10-27-2012 (2)   2 comments

Well, as I mentioned earlier today I finally was able to spend some quiet and interesting time in a nearby wildlife sanctuary. It was a beautiful sunny day and I seemed to be totally alone in over eighty acres of woods and fields. You should understand that this sanctuary is located adjacent to the Scarborough River and it’s 1100 acre fresh water marsh. It’s really a beautiful place to spend time. I made my way to the river bank where I sat in the trees observing no less than a thousand birds slowly circling the marsh. I can only assume they’re gathering for their migration south but it was really something to see. I attempted to get a few photos but they were too far away and I didn’t have my telephoto lens with me. It’s things like this that have a real calming effect on me and actually made my day.

As I worked my way back to my car I walked into an open field and found myself surrounded by at least fifty wild turkeys. I stood perfectly still as they wandered all around me. If I had moved the least little bit they would have been gone in a flash but I managed a few shots as they left the area. It’s been quite the year for wild turkeys here in Maine. I’ve seen hundreds in the last few weeks and even had a dozen in my back yard for a time a week or so ago.

It’s that time of the year in Maine when walking in the woods can become a life threatening experience. It’s like being in a war zone except many of the soldiers are under the influence of alcoholic beverages. I don’t want to be the headline in the papers: Man Shot by Hunters, Mistaken For a Cow, so I’ll be staying home until hunting season is over.

I’m making my special chili tomorrow for a group of my better-half’s friends and family and I need a few habanero peppers to spice things up a bit. A quick stop at Hannaford Foods and then back home.

The radio tells me Sandy is making her way up the coast and will be here in a day or so. Sixty mph winds should make for an interesting night or two. Thank God for our generator.

I’m looking forward to movie nite with my better-half. We were recently introduced to a BBC program made for TV that is an updated remake of Sherlock Holmes. You should know I’ve been obsessed with Sherlock Holmes for years and I’ve read everything ever written about him. I stumbled on the DVD at a local store and now I must find the second season. It’s absolutely addicting.  We can kick back and relax for a while before sleep.

Tomorrow is another day.

Posted October 31, 2012 by Every Useless Thing in Just Saying Again

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